“Look Sharp!” by Joe Jackson - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1979Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

The debut album from the 24-year-old singer-songwriter-musician arrived in January '79 and, although was a bit of a slow-burner, it eventually found an appreciative audience, especially Stateside where it went Top 20. It was an exciting time for Joe, who had recruited a sharp new band and had signed with A & M. They lined up: Joe Jackson (vocals, piano, harmonica), Gary Sanford (guitar), Graham Maby (bass) and David Houghton (drums). The album's four singles were all terrific. The first of these, “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”, puts the piano in the new wave and is delivered with suss, wit and style in abundance, although not everyone heard it that way as Joe later explained: “I heard that phrase somewhere and I thought that could be a kind of funny song about gorgeous girls going out with monsters. It just started from there. It was just a funny song, or supposed to be funny. It was a great surprise to me when some people interpreted it as being angry.” If looks could kill indeed. The tabloid-trashing “Sunday Papers” is served on a New wave reggae bed, the catchy break-up song “One More Time” is delivered on a mod-like bass-led beat and the tired of being hurt “Fools In Love” goes pure reggae, ending with the killer twist: “this fool's in love again”. It wasn't just those singles though; entertaining lyrics and a sharp group steer the album from start to finish, culminating in a punk blowout, “One More Time”, which has remained a live favourite, despite Jackson's irreverence to his first album of work: “What can anyone say about something they did so long ago?! I'm not embarrassed by it, or not by most of it, anyway. It positively reeks of London 1978–79 and, well, it is what it is. I'm glad people liked it, and still like it, though I think some of that is nostalgia and a tendency to romanticise peoples' first albums, as though later ones must somehow be less 'authentic'. For a first album, this one's not bad, but I was only 23 when I made it and it would be pretty weird if I didn't think I'd done better things since.” Selling himself short there I reckon. A fine album which I'd thoroughly recommend.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:15] 6.9.png Joe Jackson - One More Time (Joe Jackson) New Wave
A2 [04:22] 6.7.png Joe Jackson - Sunday Papers (Joe Jackson) New Wave
A3 [03:33] 10.0.png Joe Jackson - Is She Really Going Out With Him? (Joe Jackson) New Wave
A4 [03:08] 5.6.png Joe Jackson - Happy Loving Couples (Joe Jackson) Cerebral Pop
A5 [02:49] 5.7.png Joe Jackson - Throw It Away (Joe Jackson) Proto-Punk
B1 [02:36] 5.3.png Joe Jackson - Baby Stick Around (Joe Jackson) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
B2 [03:23] 5.8.png Joe Jackson - Look Sharp! (Joe Jackson) New Wave
B3 [04:23] 8.0.png Joe Jackson - Fools In Love (Joe Jackson) Reggae
B4 [03:12] 5.8.png Joe Jackson - (Do The) Instant Mash (Joe Jackson) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
B5 [02:55] 6.4.png Joe Jackson - Pretty Girls (Joe Jackson) Cerebral Pop
B6 [02:55] 6.8.png Joe Jackson - Got The Time (Joe Jackson) Punk

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